Almost one in eight people admitted to a Victorian hospital will suffer a complication

5 January 2004


The Medical Renaissance Group


Dear Friends


MayI wish you an absolutely Wonderful 2004


I enclose details of important media information as to what is going on in our Health System


The amount of Hospital based errors causing grevious harm to our patients is terrible.


 Now when i send a patient to a local Casualty I fear for these people as to the kind of care they will get. Although the strains on General Practice are enormous due to the kind of band aid medicine practiced the strains on Doctors in the Hospital System must be at breaking point.


 In my recent experience with my patients at hospitals I have seen burst appendix caused by the patient being left to wait overnifght before operation, missed diagnosis of appendix after 3  visits to cas before diagnosis and operation and Inability of a casualty Officer to diagnose severe septic tonsillitis . Also I have an 8o year old veteran patient with severe cellulitis of his hand and septicemia being kept waiting for hours in Cas, told to return daily for 2 days  and then shipped for intavenous antibiotics to a hospital in Prahran from Croydon where he stayed for 7 days.. The sytem is collapsing due to inadequate supervisiuon of Juior Medical Staff and what seems to be utter apathy inthe Hospital System


Does anybody have any comments??


It strikes me the Hospital System is killing people and creating more illness than it cures here in Australia!!


 Do we want our Colleagues to treat or rather destroy us in this way when we are patients??


What can we do about this terrible horrific state of affairs?





Hospital hazards shock experts
By Tom Noble
Health Editor Age
December 11, 2003

Almost one in eight people admitted to a Victorian hospital will suffer a complication during their stay, according a study of 1.65 million hospital visits.

"It's a staggering number," said one of the researchers, Stephen Duckett. "I don't think people realise when they go to hospital that there is a risk that things will go wrong.

"At the very least, it's something we have to address. It's a problem. We've got to fix it."

The analysis, by La Trobe University's school of public health, draws on State Government data on patient records for visits to public and private hospitals in 2000-01.

The study found that 135,849 cases, or 8.3 per cent of those who visited hospital, suffered a complication. Those who had a same-day visit suffered fewer complications (1.4 per cent) than those who spent at least one night in hospital (11.5 per cent).

Professor Duckett said the study results were comparable to other inquiries into adverse events and complications in Australian hospitals.

"This study, which looked at broad general computerised data, ended up with roughly the same results as have come out of bigger, more detailed studies. And we think the numbers are an underestimate," he said.

Professor Duckett said the complications, which developed after arriving at hospital, were not necessarily caused by medical errors by staff.

Complications were more frequent in the elderly, and those who developed complications stayed longer in hospital.

"A complication is something that goes wrong after you have been admitted to hospital. It might be something simple like constipation, a bit more complex like a urinary tract infection, or it might be quite complex."

Professor Duckett said it was not clear how many complications were preventable.

"We are not saying some individual is at fault. We can't tell that from the record. All we can say is something happened. We need to know about it, and we need to know how many there are."

Professor Duckett said the medical profession went into denial after a 1995 report suggested that more than 16 per cent of Australian patients suffered an adverse event during their hospital stay, and it was not until 2000 that federal and state health ministers set up the Australian Council for Safety and Quality in Health Care, taking a national approach to the issue.

In August, The Age revealed that the state's hospitals reported to the Health Department 16 deaths caused by medical mistakes for the year to June 30, 2003, the second year hospitals have been required to report such incidents.

Almost a dozen other people suffered injury because of staff treating the wrong patient or body part, instruments being left behind after surgery, and neurological damage.

A range of errors led to the deaths, including three cases in which patients, including a child, were given the wrong medication. Medical experts regard the 16 reported deaths as only a small proportion of the real number, with a new investigative unit based at the coroner's office believing more than one death a week reported to the coroner by Victorian hospitals might be caused by medical mistakes.

Professor Duckett said The Alfred hospital was one that studied its complications-of-care data in a bid to track patterns and trends.

"I think all hospitals should use it themselves to actually track what's happening inside the hospital," he said. "Are they improving? Are they able to use the data to focus on problem areas they identify in their own quality improvement process?"

Professor Duckett said tapping into existing data - entered when a patient's stay ended - could provide timely


GP clinics plan to cut hospital queues
By Paul Heinrichs  The Age

January 4, 2004

More than one in three Victorian patients attending hospital emergency departments is suffering ailments that should be treated by a general practitioner.

In a bid to stop the unnecessary flooding of hospitals with non-emergency cases, the State Government wants to divert these patients to GP clinics it wants to establish in hospital campuses.

New figures show that a statewide average of 38 per cent of patients have only minor problems but are attending hospitals because of falling rates of bulk-billing by GPs and the GPs' reduced availability, especially for after-hours services, in many areas.

The State Government has become alarmed at the rapid growth in this trend - up to 21 per cent in the past year in some places- and is seeking Federal Government co-operation in setting up the diversion system.

The so-called "primary care type" patients are clogging emergency departments, delaying treatment for more seriously ill people and the pressure is creating knock-on effects in the running of the hospitals.

Among the minor ailments, constipation, rolled ankles and ear infections or excess wax are some of those unnecessarily taking up the time of physicians and other emergency staff.

The problem is most severe in the outer suburban, regional and rural hospitals, where up to two-thirds of people turning up at emergency departments should have been treated by GPs.

The GP clinic diversion system is already working effectively in hospitals in the Hunter Valley of NSW.

The Victorian Human Services Department is keen to see the clinics set up at the Northern (where a similar system is being tested), Sunshine, Geelong, Maroondah, Casey and Royal Children's hospitals.

It defines the "primary care type" category of patients as those who did not arrive in an ambulance, were not referred by a GP, were assessed as a triage category of 4 or 5, were not admitted and stayed fewer than 12 hours.

The lowest outer-suburban rate was at Frankston Hospital (21 per cent) - the reason is that it has had a bulk-billing GP clinic attached.

The data also shows that "PCT" patients mostly turn up in the evenings and at weekends.

Victorian Health Minister Bronwyn Pike told the Senate Select Committee inquiry into Medicare last year that there had been 2 million fewer bulk-billed GP services in Victoria in the past two years.

In the federal seat of Indi, for instance, the bulk-billing rate in the September quarter was the lowest in Australia at 29.3 per cent. In nearby Murray, it was 31.1 per cent.

These figures help explain why the Goulburn Valley Hospital at Shepparton is inundated with "PCT" patients.

Ms Pike told The Sunday Age that she had discussed the idea for GP clinics at emergency departments with Federal Health Minister Tony Abbott soon after he was appointed in September, and he subsequently wrote saying he was willing to explore the idea.

"That was most encouraging," she said, indicating Victoria was ready to proceed.

Ms Pike said that in a GP clinic, people would not keep getting shuffled back in the queue, for instance, as higher priority cases arrived, as happened under the triage system in emergency wards.

But there appear to be three stumbling blocks that could defeat the Victorian proposal.

The first is about the technical legality of the proposal - at present, it is against the law for doctors to charge Medicare for a service which is already being paid for through the Commonwealth's contribution to hospital funding.

Ms Pike said this should be overcome because the Federal Government was already saving millions of dollars on bulk-billing costs, including $15.8 million in after-hours costs, that were now picked up by the hospitals.

She said Victoria was now picking up 56 per cent of the cost of hospitals - intended to be shared 50-50.

She said that under the Coalition Government's ideology, it would not mandate doctors to bulk-bill from the clinics, but they were unlikely to work without bulk-billing.

If the Federal Government sanctioned bulk-billing, hospitals would play their part through savings on rent, staffing and ancillary medical costs for the clinics.

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